How are retail sales numbers higher than they were last year?
Share Now on:
If you told Taylor Fenske in March that he was about to spend six months basically unable to leave his house, go to restaurants or travel? He would have expected to save a lot of money, he said. And he would’ve been wrong.
“Mostly I’m spending money on wood,” said Fenske, who works in public relations and lives in New Jersey.
He has spent about $1,500 building a desk, TV tables, a plant stand, a nightstand and a corner table.
“You know, I wake up on Saturday just thinking like, what the hell am I going to do to fill my time today?” Fenske said. “So I just walk around until I see something that needs to be fixed.”
Retail sales numbers came out Friday, and sales were actually 2.7% higher than in July 2019.
This is exactly why. People have cut back on their visits to restaurants and bars. They’re spending less on clothing. But they’re still shopping.
Sales at home and garden stores are up by almost 15% compared to last year.
And they’re up almost 18% at stores that sell musical instruments, books and sporting goods.
Doug Hermanson, an economist at Kantar, has not had time to pick up any new hobbies.
“As an economist, obviously, work starts to ramp up when (global recessions) occur,” he said.
But he has been biking more — so he bought some exercise shirts and he’s in the market for a new ride.
“You’re not spending money on other places, and so you’re kind of focusing on that one area that you are able to be passionate about,” Hermanson said. “And yeah, that shows up in these numbers.”
Another reason retail sales are actually higher than they were a year ago? Online sales have also jumped by almost 25%.
The big question now is: Can this last without another relief package from Congress? Because without those additional unemployment benefits, people will have less money to spend on retail therapy.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.
You make our
Support nonprofit news you love with a gift today.